Search warrants detail history of abuse against Erica Parsons
By: Shavonne Potts
A day after authorities searched the home of missing teen Erica Parsons, search warrants reveal a history of abuse by her adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons.
Erica, 15, who disappeared nearly two years ago, was reported missing July 30 by the Parsonses' son, James.
In warrants filed Thursday, investigators with the State Bureau of Investigation and the Rowan County Sheriff's Office say Sandy and Casey Parsons are said to have “routinely abused Erica both mentally and physically.”
The warrants list the items officers seized from the Parsonses' home — including pants, a section of drywall, baseboards and carpet that may be stained with blood and two large knives wrapped in plastic.
Investigators also found a collection of magazines about JonBenet Ramsey, a Colorado child murdered in her parents' home in 1996. That crime has never been solved.
Investigators with the sheriff's office, SBI and the FBI served the search warrants Wednesday around 10:15 a.m. on the Miller Chapel Road home. They searched the home's interior, the backyard, an enclosed garage apartment and the couple's Dodge minivan.
The search continued well into the night, with investigators even moving an above-ground pool and digging in the backyard.
FBI questions husband
On Thursday, the FBI questioned Casey Parsons' husband, Sandy, for nearly five hours at the office of the couple's lawyer, Carlyle Sherrill.
Sandy quickly left the office without comment around 1:30 p.m. after the interview. Sherrill spoke with members of the news media a few minutes later.
The attorney said Casey Parsons is a patient at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, taken there Wednesday for emergency surgery related to stomach and colon issues. She went to the hospital sometime before investigators finished the Wednesday search of the house.
Sherrill said he wasn't sure if stress triggered Casey Parson' need to be hospitalized, but she was in surgery and her husband would be heading to the hospital to “be by her side.”
Hospital officials did not release information about Casey Parsons' condition.
Sherrill said he doesn't put trust in the allegations of abuse found in the warrants.
Investigators with the SBI and the Rowan County Sheriff's Office said in court documents that family members of Casey Parsons told them “she couldn't tolerate her and she does not claim Erica as her daughter.”
The warrants describe a troubled childhood and home for Erica. Family members told investigators they often saw bruises on her that the adoptive parents said were caused by other children.
The Parsonses adopted Erica when she was 2 years old. The teen's biological mother, Carolyn Parsons, was married to Sandy Parsons' brother.
Relatives share info
The family members cited in the warrants, who are not named, said “Erica was small for her age and rarely interacted with family or extended family,” and that she was often harshly disciplined by Casey Parsons.
“Family members stated another child in the home told this family member that Casey took a toy gun and broke it while hitting Erica with the toy,” the warrants say.
At one point, a family member told investigators, Casey Parsons sent Erica to live with someone else, the warrants say.
“One witness said they took custody of Erica for about eight months after Casey contacted them and said she could not stand to look at Erica. This witness said Casey had brought Erica to their house. They said Erica had bruises on her bottom and Casey said she lost control and beat Erica.
“This witness said that after about eight months, Casey resumed custody of Erica and she was afraid DSS would find out she did not have her and was still getting money for her.”
The family member said while staying with them, Erica told them that Sandy and Casey hit her, the warrant says.
A family member said Casey told them she could not stand to look at Erica because the girl “reminds her of Carolyn and she hates Carolyn,” the warrants say.
How it unfolded
James Parsons reported Erica missing after he was kicked out of the house. Casey Parsons has said she and her husband asked James to leave after he physically assaulted her and pushed his younger brother against a hallway door.
James Parsons said he woke up and realized that Erica wasn't in the house. He asked his parents where the girl was, and they told him they had taken her to Asheville live with Erica's grandmother.
The Parsonses told investigators Erica went to live with her biological grandmother, Irene “Nan” Goodman, in Asheville.
Authorities have not been able to verify that claim. The warrants say the Parsonses told investigators they took another daughter with them when they dropped off Erica, but the daughter, Brook, told investigators in a separate interview that she did not go on that trip.
Also, investigators say Casey Parsons told them she had been contacted by the grandmother through Facebook, but she was unable to provide any proof.
The warrants also say bank records show the Parsonses continued to cash support payments for Erica's care after the girl had left the home. The couple told reporters last week they continued to take the payments because Erica's health insurance was tied to the payments.
Investigators say the couple's fear of authorities finding out about the payments led to a delay in reporting Erica as “missing in a timely or reasonable time frame.”
One neighbor said she had never seen Erica since the family moved into the home in April 2011. Erica was home schooled and according to Sandy, his wife liked to keep the children at home and safe.
The search warrants detail a number of items that were seized from the property, including a desktop computer, laptops, cell phones, bank account information, digital cameras, a diary, photographs, an envelope labeled “Erica Theeth” on it, letters and other papers.
On Monday, the couple and Sherrill had taped a segment for the “Dr. Phil” show. The episode is not expected to run this week.